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Vintage Gillette ad for class

For my college writing class we have been tasked with analyzing an ad.

Being that I just recently got into wetshaving I figured a classic gillette ad would work well for this.

Here is the ad that I selected for the project

Here are the requirements for the assignment as per the email I received from my professor

So far I have just picked my ad and am beginning the analysis portion.
Figured I would let Badger and Blade know about this as this is a new endeavor for me.

"Writing Assignment # 4 Prompt
Evaluation – The Academic Objective
Context: As you discovered in our leap from the subjectiveto objective writing from your second to third essay, writing rarely allows us to be wholly objective. After all, the ideas we put on paper emerge from our own thinking – so in a way writing is, as we have seen up to this point, tied up with identity and personal preference. Much like arguments, evaluations are a form of persuasive writing offered to the reader in the spirit of debate (and, sometimes, provocation). Evaluations are so common in the real world we hardly notice them (from business to entertainment industries). Someone is always ready to tell us what could be done differently or better. In an evaluation you combine research and analysis by examining a subject and then offering a judgment (with criteria for this judgment), fleshed out with support and evidence drawn from a close reading of the primary text. An evaluation combines the skills of close critical reading with the skills of argument. Evaluation combines analysis (essay 2) and argument (essay three). Though your evaluation will maintain the objective, academic narrative voice, it can be contentious and often inflected with the energy of personal opinion and taste. Since it is not expected that everyone will agree with an evaluation, writers get to exercise different rhetorical muscles in this genre.
Assignment:Choose a one-page print ad from a contemporary magazine, and in a typed essay no less than 5 pages, evaluate the ad’s ability to sell a product or service to itstarget audience. Consider the message and strategies of the ad, drawing supporting arguments about the particular strategies of this ad based on at least four secondary sources. In a paper of this length use secondary sources sparingly and cite any sources using MLA style.


  • In addition to supporting your evaluation based on your analysis of the print ad, you are required to provide supporting evidence of your criteria for assessment from a minimum offour secondary sources. You may use more than four, but the minimum requirements are two of your sources must come from the list* below and the other two must come from your own research (no more than one of which can be from a web-site or other exclusively electronic source). Encyclopedia articles will not be accepted as research sources. You must include a Works Cited at the end of your essay.

  • Two of your sources must come from this list*:
oStuart Hirschberg’s “The Rhetoric Of Advertising”
oJib Fowles’ “Advertising’s Fifteen Basic Appeals”
oWilliam Lutz’s “With These Words I Can Sell You Anything”

  • Suggestions for your other chosen sources: consider using some of the essays we read in theSigns of Life text for this course, your product/company’s website, your magazine’s website (mission statement), or the media kit for your magazine as your electronic source.
  • You must be careful to document your sources according to the MLA style. To avoid plagiarism you must be careful to distinguish between your argument and the source's argument to which you are referring for support.

  • Read Chapter 4 “Evaluation” and Chapter 8 “Rhetorical Analysis” in their entirety
  • Include a paragraph early on in the essay which briefly yet accurately describes the ad to your reader. It is usually easiest for your reader to follow an argument that first provides a description or overview of the ad, and then fills in the specific details later in the body of your paper.
  • Include a paragraph early on in the essay which briefly yet accurately describes the ad’s target audience to your reader. Before you can evaluate the success of an ad’s appeal to its target audience, you must clarify who that target audience is, what they like, desire, believe and their other demographic characteristics that advertising companies take into account to establish your evaluation criteria.
  • Use the “Methods for Analyzing You Ad” attached to the prompt for every paragraph to help you examine the advertising strategies and effects in your ad.
  • Continually ask yourself: What does the ad want the audience to believe, and how well does it work to make them believe it?
  • Your research sources can work to support your argument in at least three ways:
    • First, you can use the assigned articles, and other articles about advertising in general, to discuss your ad in relation to the purpose of advertising.
    • Second, you can find articles that support your discussion of the way the ad works uses advertising strategies and effects. For example, you could talk about the way that a particular effect is achieved by the use of color, selective focus, or layout, or the deceptive use of language such as unfinished claims and weasel words, or by making implicit comparisons that try to make the viewer insecure or unsatisfied.
    • Finally, you could find articles related to the particular images in your ad. For instance, if your ad prominently features children, or certain kinds of images of women, you could find articles on cultural perceptions of children or women that support your discussion of the way these images are used.

IT IS IMPORTANT that you clearly cite, in appropriate form as described by our handbook, the source of any ideas, arguments, facts, statistics, or phrases that you take from your research sources, even if you are only paraphrasing their argument in your own words, and that the source of each citation is correctly listed in your reference list. Failure to do so is a breach of academic ethics and grounds for failing this paper.

The best essays will:

  • Contain a logical organization of clear, distinct and unified paragraphs, each with a single clear topic.
  • Be supported with specific pieces of objective evidence.
  • Have few typographical, spelling, grammatical or sentence errors, and few awkward word choices.
  • Have sentences with clear syntax and are easy to understand.
  • Have a tone properly elevated and professional.
  • Meet all MLA formatting requirements


Methods for Analyzing Your Ad
In analyzing an ad, your goal is to determine the ad’s message, and how all of the various elements of the ad work together to produce that message. Although persuading you to buy the product is the ultimate goal, this message is usually more complex than simply, “Buy this product.” For instance, an ad might say something like, “drinking this brand of vodka will make you seem more sophisticated and desirable, and so the beautiful woman in the ad will drape herself all over you like she’s currently draped over that James Bond character.” Naturally, to discover how the ad works, you’ll have to look at a lot of different elements, some of which are listed below. Work through the list, and determine which elements are significant for your ad. Not all of them will apply, and you do not need to discuss those that don’t, but you should be careful to find all those that work to create the ad’s message.

Consider the following categories when analyzing your ad:
·What audience does your ad target and how do you know this? Describe the audience by:
osocioeconomic status
ogeographic location
oeducational level
oracial/ethnic group

2.Composition and Layout
·What do you see first in the ad or is most prominent? Why? What does the ad want us to see as its center and how does it focus our attention?
·In what way and by what means are your eyes directed across the page? What are you led towards in the ad?
·Does it use the focus of the camera lens, the attention of the people in the picture, the arrangement of objects?
·What is the relationship between shapes and objects on the page (including the text)? Are some things in the foreground and others in the background? Why? Are there any objects that have been altered (make out of focus, changed color) to push them into the background or foreground?

·Certain color schemes, such as sepia toning, are often used to evoke nostalgia. What colors are used and what is their effect? What is the overall tone of the picture? is it warm, bright or happy? is it solemn, dark, serious or mysterious? What feelings or impressions does the use of color evoke?
·Is it a monochrome or color ad? Are monochrome and color images mixed? to what effect?
·How does the color affect the composition (sec background and foreground above)?
·What is the relationship between colors on the page? Are some parts bright and others dark?

4.Images and Ideas
·What symbolic images are used (Statue of Liberty, fancy cars, etc.) and what are they meant to represent? What ideas (liberty, wealth, personal independence, sexual desire) are being evoked by these images?
·What is the implied relationship between the ideas evoked and the thing being sold? Do they suggest positive associations, or things to avoid? (Example: babies to evoke innocence or flags to evoke patriotism)
·What ideas or images are being left out or hidden (e.g., health problems in cigarette ads, environmental damage in oil company ads)?
·What is the intended effect of these images on the reader?
·Are there any hidden or subliminal messages contained in subtle symbols?
·Are there people in the ad? What are they doing and how do they feel about it? How are they presented? Are they active or posed?
·Are they aware of the camera, or are they engaged in some activity?
·What is our relationship with the people in the ad? Are we meant to sympathize with them, form an emotional response (as with babies), or laugh at them? Do we want to join them, or are we to feel superior to them?
·Are they aware of the camera, or unconscious that they are being photographed?
·Are we meant to be involved in the ad?
·Lutz tells us that every word in an ad is there for a reason: “no word is wasted" (567). What are the effects of the text on the audience? What does the text imply or claim in the ad"
That looks like an interesting assignment. I did notice that it said Contemporary magazine, so you might have a hard sell calling this contemporary, but something different never hurts (It isn't like you can't get the same information off an old ad). I never had many fun assignments (I studied engineering & technology), except in some English classes. I got yelled at for doing a triginometry assignment about measuring angles because instead of measuring building like everyone else, I made up a story about a dinosaur eating my friend. Math people aren't much for imagination. Good luck on the assignment!
Also, you're supposed to analyze the "text."

"with support and evidence drawn from a close reading of the primary text. "

There's no text to analyze. It's a great ad, but good luck getting 5 typed pages out of it.
Well as things wrap up towards the end of the semester it gets crazy busy

I finished my last final this afternoon
On Tuesday morning I submitted my final draft of this paper to my Professor

For those that would be interested in reading the final paper, send me a PM with your Email address and I will send it along
Good luck on your paper.

It would appear to me that the target audience is obviously newer/younger males - always a favorite demographic of advertisers, but also includes the percentage of males who may frequent barbershops for straight shaves, hence the "shave yourself" portion of the text. No doubt saftey razors dramatically shifted the marketplace for male grooming products and habits.

I'll have to send you my e-mail address as I am interested in your and your profs take. thanks for sharing!
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Barrett Joseph Kearns II
Writing 1
18 December 2012
A bygone era of men’s shaving

King C. Gillette completely changed the world of grooming in the early 20[SUP]th[/SUP] century when he radically changed shaving. Before this invention of an easy to obtain mass-produced safety razor shaving was greatly more complicated and involved, honing and stropping a straight razor also known as a cutthroat razor had to be done to maintain a perfect cutting edge (History 1). Cut throat razors were the only option that was around before the invention of the safety razor. In terms of inventions, the safety razor is on the same level as when Henry Ford released the Model T as it completely changed a particular aspect of American life. As with Henry Ford and the Model T other designs of automobiles and straight razors existed before each of these inventors released their products, but these men did it at a price point and are the ones that are remembered in their respected fields. In Chapter Two of William Lutz’s book, With These Words I Can Sell You Anything he talks about weasel words and how manufactures use them. He has a very negative view on advertising that can be quickly gathered through reading his work. On page One hundred and eighteen he makes a great claim about advertising, “Analyzing ads for doublespeak requires that you pay attention to every word in the ad and determine what each word really means”(Lutz 118). This is a critical part of the

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viewer’s part in the equation. Advertising is a two-part equation of attempting to build a bridge between the intended viewer and the seller of the product.
The ad that I selected for this assignment is a young toddler boy wet shaving with a Gillette safety razor. This ad was released in 1905 and is one of the very first advertising campaigns that Gillette released (Advertising 12). This ad is very basic and is not overwhelming with an information overload; it is direct and focused in the message it is conveying to the intended audience. The intended audience in a wide sense is any male from teenaged years to death. I believe a more specific audience would be white males, but do not have anything to support a specific race as the intended audience other than that the ad uses a white toddler. Pinpointing a specific audience for an item that is used by really all men regardless of race and income is challenging. The typical American male is a man that values; quality, ease of use, and operational costs. The reason that the Gillette razor did so amazingly well was due to the fact that embodied what the American man looks for in a product. The Gillette razor is, “a razor with a safe, inexpensive, and disposable blade”(Bellis 2). A product that is revolutionary priced right and has an effective marketing campaign behind does well.
An effective ad is very focused at the intended market with a specific goal. The Gillette ad is no different and used a very particular set of techniques to be successful with the American male in the early 20[SUP]th[/SUP] century. One of the tools that are used by advertisers that are extremely powerful, but very subtle is color. There are two main colors that are used in the Gillette ad and they are white and green. Behind the child is a background of two inch by two inch green tiles. The idea of green of using green in a
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shaving ad makes total sense. The color green in the advertising world is described as, “harmony, freshness, and fertility… great healing power”(Color 4). The green tile background promotes a sense of a clean, tranquil, peaceful environment and accomplishes exactly what the designers of the ad set about doing when they created the ad. As a viewer and a member of the intended market group that this ad is directed at, the color of the background is perfectly suited to the crowd and item being sold. The next color that is noticed is the color white of the shaving cream, the child’s clothing and to a lesser extent the skin color. White is a color that has always been associated with, “light, goodness, innocence, purity, the color of perfection, safety”(Color 7). White is a powerful color that is extremely subtle as it is used so often and the average viewer does not think about the reason why it is being used. After completing this assignment and realizing what goes into an ad and the actual impact that color plays looking at an ad will never be the same. The color that is used is not merely chosen at random, the ad designers are extremely direct in the reasoning behind colors. The power of color is glanced over so often as it is intended to something that is in the background.
The baby that is used in the very center of the image is conveying both an obvious message and a hidden one. The obvious message coincides with the text below that says Begin Early. Obviously the Gillette Company was not suggesting that toddlers take up wet shaving, but what they are saying is that when a boy becomes of age that he should be started off on a Gillette safety razor. The message that is less obvious is that the child is suggesting a baby smooth shave will be achieved when using a safety razor. The skin

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of young children is extremely soft, when shaving the goal of a perfect shave is the idea of baby smooth.
The ad uses font and text that makes sense to the men of that era. On the very bottom it says, No Stropping and No Honing, stropping and honing are what required of straight razor to maintain a perfect edge. Honing and stropping require tools that take an acquired knowledge that are only gained through practice. This process also requires more time and effort to perform than simply switching out a disposable blade on a safety razor. On a Gillette safety razor, the user simply twists the bottom of the razor that opens the two locking jaws that hold the blade in place. To lock the blade down, simply thread the screw back down and the jaws locked close onto the blade. The process is extremely quick to swap out a blade and can be completed easily in under half a minute. To the American men who were use to having to strop and hone a straight razor an alternative in the form of an affordable disposable blade made the Gillette razor such a success. This revolutionary new idea completely changed the world of men’s grooming (Picker 1). The ability to quickly swap in a new blade is the reason that the Gillette safety razor took off so amazingly well.
The inventor of the Gillette safety razor did more than invent a revolunitionary new shaving tool he invented an entirely new business model (Picker 1). King Gillette said, “, "I am able to produce and sell my blades so cheaply that the user may buy them in quantities and throw them away when dull without making the expense ... as great as that of keeping the prior blades sharp”(Picker 1). This idea of consumerism in America was something that was just beginning to happen at the turn of the 20[SUP]th[/SUP] century and the release
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of the first widely successful safety razor along with a good advertising campaign worked perfectly. Before the turn of the century consumerism was largely nonexistent and products were built to last and be given routine upkeep and maintained. Consumerism replaced the idea of built to last with consumables and the Gillette safety razor embodied the idea of consumerism to a T. In paragraph 5 of Jib Fowles Advertising's Fifteen Basic Appeals he talks about that advertising is a two-fold attack front of the consumer (Fowles 5). The Gillette Corporation in the early 20[SUP]th[/SUP] century launched a new product but in order for that new product to be successful it had a powerful advertising campaign behind it.
The Gillette shaving ad was extremely popular when it was released over one hundred year ago and even today it continues to be successful. As a twenty one year old American male I am very much a part of the intentioned market demographic hat such an ad targets. After first seeing this ad some months ago, I became interested in shaving with a safety razor and decided to pick on up. Like most things in life there is a learning curve in learning how to avoid nicks, but very manageable and obtainable rather quickly. A safety razor today still has the same advantages today over both a modern multiple bladed razor system and of a traditional straight razor that it did One hundred years ago, cost and time. Many men across the planet still are using safety razors to shave their face and getting amazing baby smooth shaves. Wet shaving is something that does indeed take long than a basic quickie shave but the results are worth it upon completion. The baby shaving ad was successful, because it harmoniously embraces everything that the American male was looking for new in a new razor when released at the turn of the

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century. Suble color selections, cost, speed and ease of use are what lead to King C. Gillettes safety razor having such wide spread success during the 20[SUP]th[/SUP] century.

The formatting transfered in kinda funky coming in off of word and also MLA format
Good ad and a good paper.
I see from the requirements of the paper you had to cover alot of ground adn topics, you did a good job in covering those. I think you might have spoke about the product more than you needed to, but any member of Badger & Blade would have done the same thing. Good thing you didn't go into the aspects of the quality of lather and wondered what kind of brush was used. LOL!
I have a little different take on the ad. To me, it implies themes of "safety," "enjoyment" and "easy to use." Just imagine the same image, a young child shaving but with a straight razor. Horrific imagery! The picture used in the ad isn't nearly as terrifying. Hence, using a safety razor is "child's play." It is so easy a child can do it. I imagine that a new youth might put off begining to shave and would be intimidated by shaving with a straight. I am and I am not a teen anymore! Now, anyone can shave themselves and at a young age safely. I think we forget that men used to regularly go to a barber for a shave and I bet most youths went regularly to avoid the rookie nicks and cuts. Who wants to go out on a date with a new girl with a cut on your cheek? The words in the ad,"Begin early" hints at this subliminal message and again, targets the youth demographic which is an advertisers aim. Older people are less likely to change products.
King Gillette's new razor made shaving a safe, easy and time efficient process that revolutionized the practice of shaving. No more drudgery of honing and stroping a straight. (sorry to all the straight aficionados) The child has a joyful expression on his face, hence the razor and shaiving is now a joy to use.

Neat way to link the assignment to your new hobby.interest.
Thanks for sharing.
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